Berkeley, CA Police Are Ticketing Bicyclists for Running Stop Signs on Bicycle Boulevards

In Berkeley, a city with a relatively high share of people riding bikes for commuting, shopping, and pleasure, the police have been using federal enforcement grants to ticket bike riders who roll through stop signs on quiet streets with very little vehicle traffic.

Police departments around the state use federal traffic enforcement funds from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to conduct enforcement aimed at bicycle and pedestrian safety. The police departments frequently announce their campaigns in the local press, using boilerplate language based on the grant applications. Those announcements strive to achieve a balance between modes, saying the enforcement is aimed at changing the behavior of bike riders, pedestrians, and drivers.

But that “balance” creates ambiguity, and room for interpretation means misinterpretation is likely. What does “bicycle and pedestrian enforcement” mean? To some it means “giving tickets to drivers violating bicycle or pedestrian safety.” To others it means “giving bike riders and pedestrians tickets.”